Edmonton is setting up for a strong year in residential real estate

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The record for home sales set last year is unlikely to be threatened by housing demand in Edmonton this year, according to the city’s realtors association.

Edmonton is setting up for a strong year in residential real estate
© Provided by Edmonton Journal Improving economic conditions are expected to help Edmonton’s real estate market.

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The Realtors Association of Edmonton recently held its annual forecast, predicting sales will remain strong with an estimated 21,400 sales. Yet activity will be 11 per cent below sales in 2021, which reached a record high of 24,075.

“So much for my hope of breaking last year’s records,” said RAE chair Paul Gravelle at last week’s event.

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Single-family homes sales, which made up much of the activity last year, will again drive the market in the Greater Edmonton Area, which includes Sherwood Park, Beaumont, Leduc and other nearby municipalities.

Still, sales for single-family detached homes will see the largest decline, expected to fall by almost 13 per cent from 2021. Duplex sales are forecast to decrease about 10 per cent while apartment sales should see the smallest drop at about seven per cent.

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At the same time, inventory is expected to remain low, with listings falling about four per cent for single-family detached homes, eight per cent for duplexes, and four per cent for condominiums.

In turn, continuing strong demand will lead to price increases over last year. Single-family detached homes’ average price is expected to increase to $472,000, up about three per cent from 2021. Condominium’s average price is forecast to reach $234,000, a rise of about one per cent, and duplexes could hit $362,000, up about three per cent.

Benjamin Tal, deputy chief economist with CIBC World Markets, noted at the forecast that COVID-19 will still weigh on the market’s direction especially for the first half of the year.

“My prediction is by mid- to late 2022 we will see a transition from a pandemic to endemic,” he said.

Demand for home purchases is likely to start to normalize, too, but the rental market could take off, leading to potentially higher rents.

“During COVID, we now know that house price went up much stronger than expected,” he said. “But rent inflation was much more muted.”

To reach comparable levels — relative to home prices — pre-pandemic, rents would have to increase nationally by 37 per cent, he noted.

Helping drive rents will be migration, both international and national.

Tal noted Canada currently has six times the immigration rate per capita of the United State, “and those new immigrants supply the labour market.”

He added new home completions will also rise, including in Edmonton, in 2022, but these “will not completely solve the issue” of lack of supply.

Another driver will be gifting as part of down payments. He noted Canadians are sitting on $300 billion in increased savings from the start of the pandemic.

“We are in the midst of the largest transfer of wealth in Canadian history,” Tal said, adding 30 per cent of home buyers are receiving gifts toward a down payment with an average size of $80,000.

Another tailwind, especially for Edmonton, will be improving economic conditions, said economist Felicia Mutheardy with the City of Edmonton, speaking at the forecast.

“We’re cautiously optimistic about 2022,” she said.

In turn, Edmonton should see increased migration with estimates for the province at about 22,000. All of these factors will drive higher sales in the region.

Although 2021 is not forecast to be a record-breaking year for sales, former RAE chair Tom Shearer noted these predictions can be wrong. As evidence, he pointed to the 2021 forecast, which projected sales and prices last year would decrease from 2020 levels.

“Often the only thing economists can agree upon (with forecasts) is uncertainty, and there was a lot of that last year,” he said. “But I know all realtors would agree 2021 was a strong year.

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